The Great Northward Migration Virtual Exhibit

Creating an accessible, interactive experience that communicates and celebrates the journey and impact of the Great Migration.

The Ask

Imagine the Phillips Collection, in collaboration with local institutions & organizations, is embarking on a groundbreaking exhibition project to explore and celebrate the Great Northward Migration. This historic movement of over 6 million African Americans from the Southern United States to the Northern cities during the early and mid-20th century is a pivotal chapter in American history.

The exhibit will have a visual identity inspired by the work of artist Jacob Lawrence, include interactive digital elements, and focus on engaging audiences with a sense of play.


Academic Project

VCU Brandcenter


5 weeks

November 2023 – December 2023



ChatGPT – Copywriting

Midjourney – AI Image Generation


UX/UI Design

Interaction Design

Education Technology

The Experience

Learning through making

Users gain insights into various facets of the Great Migration by crafting their own journeys, incorporating geographical, social, and material elements inherent to the migration journey.

Learning through SHARING

A community page facilitates mutual learning by empowering users to discover elements they may not have incorporated in their own exploration.

The Users


Young professional project manager living in Chicago

Has a general interest in history and enjoys learning about historical events

Looks for ways to broaden her knowledge and appreciation of the past


7th grade student living in Baltimore

Visual learner

Learns best by engaging with interactive learning material

The Process

Historical background

The Great Northward Migration was a significant demographic shift in the United States during the early to mid-20th century. It involved the mass movement of millions of African Americans from the rural South to urban centers in the North, Midwest, and West. This migration was primarily driven by a desire to escape the harsh conditions of the Jim Crow South, find better economic opportunities, and escape racial discrimination. Migrants contributed to the growth of urban African American communities, the Civil Rights Movement, and had a lasting impact on the nation’s social and political landscape.

Empathic design

“Empathic design” involves understanding and incorporating the emotions, experiences, and perspectives of individuals involved in the Great Migration, guiding the research and design process with a heightened sensitivity and compassion for the historical context and the people’s journeys.

Visual Identity

Jacob Lawrence was a prominent African American artist who gained significance for his compelling visual storytelling, particularly through his Migration Series, which vividly depicted the experiences of African American people during the Great Migration and is currently under ownership of the Phillips Collection. A visual identity inspired by Lawrence invokes a similar sense of storytelling, capturing the essence of the Great Migration and connecting users emotionally to the journey and struggles of those who lived through it.